SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — Staff Sgt. James Kinkead and 2nd Lt. Bryton Vanderloop were unsure about their next task.
The two 25th Infantry Division Soldiers were going to use a training methodology called Squad Overmatch to prepare two squads for infantry missions.
“I was skeptical about it,” Kinkead said. “I never heard of it,” Vanderloop said.
To make their jobs even more difficult, the Soldiers and medics in the exercise had never trained together. And Kinkead and Vanderloop, along with other instructors, had less than a week to mold the Soldiers into effective teams.
By the end of the week, both were impressed with the squads.
“They came together and performed as an expert team,” said Vanderloop. “It was great to see.”
“When we started, we could see how much they were lacking as a team,” Kinkead said. “Then to see how well they performed in live training — that shows that Squad Overmatch works.”
Squad Overmatch integrates classroom teaching, virtual training and live exercises to improve medical skills, team development, stress management, after action reviews and advanced situational awareness.
The Hawaiian exercise, which took place Aug. 13-17, involved 40 Soldiers as instructors, role players and infantry squad members. Most were from the 65th Brigade Engineer Battalion (65th BEB) of the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Col. Johnny Davis, the 25th Infantry Division’s deputy commander for operations, watched some of the live training.
“Today I witnessed the advancement and growth of squad members as they negotiated multiple live training scenarios across a multitude of warrior skills,” he said. “These are exactly the skillsets we need to improve readiness and unit cohesion within today’s complex environment.”
To prepare for the exercise, instructors and role players reviewed a Squad Overmatch app that features videos, exercise descriptions, interactive PowerPoint slides and other resources. A week before the exercise, the Squad Overmatch team arrived to provide assistance.
During training, instructors taught in the classroom, helped rehearse missions in a gaming environment, observed each squad execute three live missions and led team-based after action reviews.
The missions called for the squads to gather information from role-playing villagers and then act on the intelligence. As the training missions progressed, the scenarios ramped up Soldiers’ stress as they dealt with IEDs, snipers, suicide bombers, and civilian and military casualties.
The exercises impressed Lt. Col. James Krueger, commander of the 65th BEB. “It helps us to improve our readiness to fight tonight,” he said. Krueger said he anticipates conducting similar training with other members of his unit.
Squad Overmatch is a collaborative effort among the Program Executive Office Simulation Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), Maneuver Center of Excellence, Combined Arms Center – Training and other Army organizations. The program started in 2013 and receives funding from the CSA Army Study Program Management Office and the Defense Health Agency.
Its director, Rob Wolf of PEO STRI, said a 2016 study showed that Squad Overmatch improved individual and team performance by 26 percent to 43 percent.
Now the Squad Overmatch team is finalizing its app that provides a one-stop resource to help NCOs and platoon leaders plan and execute similar training events, which achieve numerous individual and collective skills. Wolf expects the app to be ready by the end of the year.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — All engineer Soldiers train at Fort Leonard Wood, even the four-legged ones.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the Combat Engineer Mine Detection Dog Handlers Course, where combat engineers are trained side-by-side with mine detection dogs, said Sgt. 1st Class John Martin, course noncommissioned officer in charge.
The 708-hour course, which earns the engineer the additional skills identifier of K9, begins by pairing one Soldier with multiple dogs to find the right combination to make a good team, Martin said.
“(This course is) just as much teaching the engineers how to handle the dogs as it is teaching the dogs how to do the job,” Martin said.
While the origins of the Army K9 program can be traced back to World War II and again in Vietnam, the current mine detection dog program has only been around since 2005. Following the example of the British army and their mine-detection program, the Army initiated its own program. By 2006, the Combat Engineer Mine Detection Dog Handlers Course was in full operation at Fort Leonard Wood, said Andrew Sinclair, a retired British dog handler and current trainer at the course here.
The first phase of training includes theoretical work with the dogs to help determine if the dogs are capable of learning the skills needed to do their jobs, Sinclair said.
The theoretical side for the handlers is learning care, capabilities, limitations and standards for the dogs.
“They do some pretty intense theoretical stuff before the course really starts,” Sinclair added.
From there, the course uses the natural instincts of the dogs to train them on scent detection, the first step to see if the dogs are able to do this job, Martin said.
Sinclair said the handlers are focused on giving the dogs commands, how to keep the dogs motivated, how to reward them and the basic care of the dogs.
“As the dog learns, the handler has to learn at the same pace,” Sinclair said.
Included in the six phases of training is one “intense” week, where the Soldiers learn first aid for the dogs, Sinclair said. Once they learn those skills, they are tested to ensure they are ready to move on to the next phase of training.
Engineer dog teams are capable of performing area clearance, delineation of minefield boundaries, route clearance, clearance verification, creation of safe lanes for clearance start points, and search pockets of land that are unreachable by mechanical clearance devices. Both Martin and Sinclair said these capabilities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the dogs can provide for the Army.
“They actually look for other things than just mines,” Martin said, adding they have multiple capabilities.
“The biggest thing is it doesn’t have to be any one situation,” Sinclair added. “A dog can adapt to any of the situations. Any mission that is going on out there, a dog can be at the front to ensure the mission is accomplished or on standby just in case something goes wrong.”
Sgt. David Cannon, a student who recently graduated the course, agreed.
“Most of our equipment is good, but nothing has the same capabilities as the dogs,” he said.
Cannon said he is looking forward to deploying with his dog so he will be able to make a difference for Soldiers on the battlefield.
“A lot of Soldiers will follow a dog they know can find odor fearlessly,” he said.
Martin said that was one of the reasons this course exists.
“One thing this course can bring is more Soldiers coming home. That’s what we are here for,” he said. “Utilizing us will save more Soldiers on the ground.”
Upon graduation from the course, the dog teams are assigned to the 94th Engineer Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, at Fort Leonard Wood, the only combat engineer unit with mine-detection dogs in the Army and Department of Defense.
What is it?
Field Manual (FM) 6-22 Leader Development provides a doctrinal framework covering methods for leaders to develop other leaders, improve their organizations, build teams, and develop themselves. The principal audience for FM 6-22 is all leaders, military and civilian, with an application focus at the operational and tactical levels.
What has the Army done?
Center for Army Leadership (CAL), a part of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Mission Command Center of Excellence, has developed FM 6-22 Leader Development into an enhanced electronic book (e2Book).
This new e2Book is an interactive digital publication which represents a “living doctrine” supplement to FM 6-22. It contains interactive content, figures and tables not included in the printed edition of FM 6-22. This medium uses multimedia, such as videos, pictures and interactive diagrams to enhance the learning leader development concepts. It also provides embedded links to other doctrinal publications and resources relevant to FM 6-22. The e2Book can be downloaded to computers, tablets and smart phones.
The FM 6-22 e2Book is available on the Central Army Registry. This doctrine supplement is reaching audiences across the Army in a way that makes leader development more accessible and understandable.
Interactive diagrams, such as the Leader Competency Model, clearly communicate a concept vital to Army leadership and leader development. Video interviews illustrate to Army leaders the importance of leader development concepts in ways users can relate. The e2Book is also organized with modified tables that make information accessible for quick reference.
With the update to the FM 6-22 Leader Development the Army is able to make the concepts more easily accessible for Army leaders. This will aid Army leaders to create leader development programs, assess leader performance indicators, and conduct developmental counseling.
What continued efforts are planned for the future?
CAL will continue to champion leader development through the refinement and development of:
- FM 6-22 Leader Development
- LeaderMap app
- FM 6-22 Leader Development E2 publication
- Virtual Improvement Center leader development lessons
- Army Leadership Development Strategy
- Army Profession and Leader Development Forum
These and other projects arm leaders with the tools and concepts necessary to influence people by providing purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.
Why is this important to the Army?
Leader development is fundamental to the success of the United States Army. It helps to grow Soldiers and Army Civilians into competent and confident leaders capable of decisive action.
FM 6-22 Leader Development provides comprehensive guidelines in facilitating readiness, the Army leader’s most important objective.
- U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
- U.S. Army Combined Arms Center
- Mission Command Center of Excellence
- The Center for Army Leadership
Maj. Michael Tiffany led 16 fellow Command and General Staff Officer Course students from his class in organized group physical fitness training Aug. 21 near Sherman Army Airfield.
He said the organized group physical fitness training mandate is new for the 2018 academic year, but students have always been responsible for maintaining physical fitness.
“There’s no better way of building team camaraderie within our smaller groups than participating in organized (physical training) in the morning,” Tiffany said. “We do PT on our own for three days, and we do (physical training) for two days as a group.”
Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, Command and General Staff College commandant and commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, directed CGSOC and School of Advanced Military Studies students and faculty to participate in organized physical training.
The initiative further emphasizes the Army chief of staff’s focus on readiness. Top physical fitness performers are recognized at CGSOC and SAMS graduations with the Iron Major Awards.
Tiffany said students conduct the organized group training with their staff groups or seminars. He said the officers have an overall obligation to exercise five days a week.
“From my perspective, implementing the policy had nothing to do with a lack of fitness among the officers,” Tiffany said. “It was about our having opportunities to interact with each other as a team outside of the classroom environment while doing something physically challenging and fun.”
Tiffany said the athletic directors for CGSOC staff groups are volunteers. He said he would eventually develop a program that prepares classmates for future physical requirements.
“We are going to take the (Army Occupational Physical Assessment Test) and the (Army Combat Readiness Test),” Tiffany said. “We’ll build our program around exercises that will support us doing well on those tests, too.”
Maj. Cara Hamaguchi, of Staff Group 15A, echoed Tiffany and said the interaction among the students outside of a classroom environment would have value. She said the activities were a resourceful way to get to know each other as professionals.
“The personalities really come out on the PT field,” Hamaguchi said. “We get a glimpse of each other during the work inside and actually learn more about our classmates’ personalities out here.”
Tiffany said CGSC affords the time to ensure groups can participate in physical training together and meet the commander’s intent. He said assessing physical readiness using the standard Army physical fitness test alone is not the most efficient process.
“The APFT is a measurement of aerobic capacity and muscular endurance,” Tiffany said. “It’s not a thorough assessment of muscular strength or mobility. So, that is something we’ll do internally using various methods and measurements.”
Tiffany said the custom fitness program for his group will include elements that work on aerobic capacity and muscular endurance along with anaerobic exercises. He said officers are encouraged to use other resources on the post as well.
“We’ll build anaerobic areas by adding sprints and getting into the weight room to lift heavy weights,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany said the first day of group physical fitness was a success for the members of his team. He said all of the chosen activities came from the Army’s field manual for physical readiness training.
“We did 10 minutes of burpees and squats, took a break before doing 10 minutes of push ups and rowers,” Tiffany said. “And now we are going to do team relay races.”
Pictured above: Staff Group 15A Command and General Staff Officer Course students Maj. Cara Hamaguchi, Capt. Zach Morris and Capt. James Peck perform pushups during organized physical training with their staff group Aug. 21 on the soccer field by Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert
WASHINGTON, — The Army’s oldest active-duty infantry unit is supporting the service’s efforts to upgrade its dining facilities and improve soldiers’ health and readiness.
The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is now providing soldiers with healthier food options and greatly increasing the use of its dining facility at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia.
Under the leadership of Army Col. Jason Garkey and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, the facility is now used seven days a week by all members of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s community, including Honor Guard elements serving at nearby Arlington National Cemetery.
The dining facility provides an outlet for young soldiers to relax and get a quality meal while also giving leaders a place to engage their soldiers in a comfortable setting. The Old Guard is using the dining facility to conduct newcomers’ briefings, host leader development meals, and celebrate key events such as the recent Army birthday.
By promoting and establishing innovative ways to use the dining facility and reach out to junior soldiers, The Old Guard has seen dramatic results in morale and dining facility usage.
Nutritious, Appealing Food
A key influence, and probably the most easily overlooked, is the advertisement of calendar events, specialty meals and daily menus. Across The Old Guard, appealing, nutritious menus are posted in high-traffic areas such as in the barracks and company areas, and are also emailed out to leadership to ensure maximum use.
The Old Guard is taking these steps because of a review of food services conducted by the Army’s logistics leadership and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command‘s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia. The review, part of the Army’s health initiative, is geared toward giving soldiers healthy and convenient food choices to increase individual health, fitness and readiness.
Enhancing Soldiers’ Performance
This new strategy ensures that menus and recipes are designed to enhance soldiers’ cognitive and physical performance through consistency, reliability and quality food products at the right time, location, and providing convenience to enhance readiness.
Ultimately, the dining facility provides a key location that serves as the heart of communication and camaraderie between leaders and soldiers.